#CAFS2019 

June 2019 

By Maggie Mills 

The Canadian Association of Food Studies 2019 Conference was hosted at University of British Columbia’s beautiful Vancouver campus at the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCanadian and international scholars came together to discuss all things food, from community engagement to agriculture and power dynamics within research and food. Many researchers from across the FLEdGE network presented their research projects and findings at various sessions throughout the conference.  

The conference kicked off with a book launch for the recently released edited collection Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance This book was edited and authored by researchers throughout the FLEdGE network and includes internationaexamples of how social movements can transform food systems. Select contributors participated in two panel discussions to highlight their work and offer multiple insights on community engagement and food system governance.  

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Andrew Spring, Research Associate at Wilfrid Laurier University, and Laine Young, Laurier PhD Candidate, participated in a panel on sustainable agriculture. While their research projects vary in terms of context, they both work with food insecure communities to improve local agricultural practicesOne of the projects Andrew is involved with works toward creating a garden in a small community in the Northwest Territories.  While Laine, is partnering with an urban agriculture organization in Quito, Ecuador to assess their grassroots work through a feminist lens. Both Andrew and Laine examined the successes of these initiatives and the obstacles associated with local food movements. They find that while strides have been made, larger societal issues need to be addressed if we want a just, functional, sustainable food system. 

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Alison Blay-Palmer, FLEdGE Principal Investigator and Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, and Kent MullinixDirector of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systemsparticipated in a session on using indicators and data to better understand our food systems. The panel discussion was moderated by Charles Levkoe and explained how indicators can be used to design appropriate interventions for improving the issues in a food system by effectively describing the food system climate. This panel discussed the usefulness of using indicators to characterize a food system and how they can be used to track an initiativeaffect on a food system and the people within it. They also spoke about the challenges of food systeassessment. Data is not always accessible and it can be difficult to find metrics that clearly and accurately represent issues within a food system.  

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Among the most important takeaways from the conference, was the need and ability to empower communities to take their food system into their own hands. Many of the sessions focused on community-based research and the responsibility to ensure that research outcomes are shared with the community in an usable and meaningful wayTopics and research presented andiscussed throughout the conference provided a strong reminder that people are at the centre of all our food systems work.  

About the Author: 

Maggie Mills (BAH, Economics) is a Danish-descended settler and Master of Environmental Studies candidate living on Coast Salish territory. She researches food systems and capacity building in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.  

Hybrid governance as rural development: Market, state, and civil society in Correns, France

June 2019

By Chantal Wei-Ying Clément

What does it take to develop sustainable food systems at the local level? While rural spaces are more often described as places of economic and social decline, they in fact play an essential role in providing people with community, identity, and livelihood. Often due to their smaller population size and area, rural communities in Europe have the potential to put ambitious sustainable development strategies in place more easily than larger more disperse cities and towns.

Tucked away in the foothills of Provence, France, the village of Correns is an example of how rural communities can come together to recognize the economic, social, and environmental value of their local food system and support vibrant rural livelihoods. As France’s “first organic village”, Correns’ story is described in the chapter, “Hybrid governance as rural development: Market, state, and civil society in Correns, France” in Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance. In this chapter, I discuss the innovative strategies farmers, village residents, and municipal officials used to breathe life back into their community.

Local winegrowers use horse-drawn tillage in Correns, France’s first organic village

With over 90% of its population involved in agriculture in some way, most of Correns’ locals still significantly identify with an agricultural way of life. The chapter explores how a combination of market-based practices and local democratic engagement allowed villagers to revitalize their local community. In particular, I looked at the role farmers and civil society played in the design and implementation of local strategies, and specifically, how working closely with municipal officials allowed for clear and cohesive community development.

Between 2013 and 2014, I visited and spoked to municipal officials, farmers, community organizers, and local business owners in Correns through a series of semi-structured interviews. Through these conversations and by participating in community events, I gained insight into the challenges and opportunities it took to build a more sustainable food system in Correns. I learned that Correns’ success can be attributed to three key factors: 1) mayoral leadership and the time and financial resources made available by the municipality, 2) the development of a new citizen-based decision-making structure to ensure equal relationships of power between state and society, and 3) using organic agriculture and quality labelling as the jumping-off point for broader sustainable community development. The case of Correns also stresses that the strong community bonds and the overlapping roles of members within smaller rural communities create key opportunities for sustainable development, namely by developing trust and reciprocity between community members.

As the mayor of Correns told me:

“Politics has forgotten that we are here to give meaning and purpose to our actions, but we have to do this. In the end, any community is only as rich as the men and women who make it. […] One of my growing worries has been about the state of democracy around the world. We need to renew democracy. Even participatory democracy is often used as a trap to mean something else. We need real participatory democracy that can serve to counterweight government power.”

Developing the sustainable food systems we need for the future are a community effort. This means that all actors have to be involved in the decisions that shape and put into practice the actions that need to happen on the ground for a transition to occur. Using multiple strategies (economic, political, social) rooted in identity and place allowed Correns to imagine the wealth of possibilities that might create the much-needed momentum for food system change.

Contributor

Chantal Wei-Ying Clément is Deputy Director of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Carleton University, where her research focused on collaborative governance methods for food system transition, local food systems, and community food security.

 

Citation

Clément, C.W. (2019). Hybrid governance as rural development: Market, state, and civil society in Correns, France. In P. Andrée, J.K. Clark, C. Z. Levkoe, & K. Lowitt (Eds.), Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance (pp-pp). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


The Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance Blog Series showcases the chapters and themes from the open-access book. Follow along as we explore the governance of contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements.

Previous posts in the series:

The first step in collaborative governance of planning is not planning: Local Food Action Plan, Columbus, Ohio, USA

June 2019

By Jill Clark

What would it look like if a local government shared power with a food movement organization to plan the community’s food system? And why would they do that in the first place? Two local governments in Columbus, Ohio, USA decided to do just that. My chapter, “Collaborative Governance: The Case of Local Food Action Planning” in, Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance, explains why this happened and gives the reader an understanding of what collaborative governance looks like in practice. I focus in particular on the decision-making and its impact on the planning process.

In November 2014, the Columbus City Council and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners initiated the Local Food Action Planning (LFAP) process. Local Matters, a food movement nonprofit organization, was contracted to help with the process at the request of the city legislative lead. At the time, the mission of Local Matters was “to create healthy communities through food education, access and advocacy.” In part, they did this by building trusting and long-term relationships with other community organizations and neighbors that share their values. A unique partnership developed to create a community plan for “a fair and sustainable food system that benefits our economy, our environment, and all people.” Typical food plans include city planners, other governance department staff, and private, for-profit consultants. 

The case of the LFAP illustrates that an informal network built on trust and a common commitment empowered a food movement organization can be an equal partner in a co-governance arrangement. This suggests that the first step in a collaborative governance planning process is not planning, but should be focused on building relationships, trust, and shared values. The commitment of the two local governments to legitimize, enable, and structure the opportunity for this governance arrangement was just as important as the planning process.  These governments recognized both the skills of their existing staff in the city health department, the county economic development and planning department, and the expertise in the community.  As such, they incentivized a collaborative arrangement within which co-learning could take place and power sharing was expected. It is important to note that while collaborators in the arrangement were committed to co-learning and power sharing in the decision-making process, this arrangement did come with costs, namely time and energy to devote to the process.

Being a collaborator in the planning process is not the same as being a partner in the implementation process. Therefore, because Local Matters was an equal partner in the design of the planning and decision-making process, their values were embedded throughout the LFAP process. In this case, those values included social justice and community empowerment lenses. Figure 1 illustrates three ways that community members are engaged in the implementation of the plan, through the food board, the food council, and the project teams. 

Figure 1. Local Food Action Plan implementation governance structure

The Local Food Action Planning process resulted in an expanded community network and an innovative governance structure for implementation that includes reciprocal relationships between local government, the private sector, and a grassroots civil society coalition.  Consequently, the capacity of the network in the city of Columbus and Franklin County to tackle wicked food system problems has been increased.

If you want to take a look at the Local Food Action Plan, you can find the award-winning plan here.

Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance is an open-access book. You can read it online or download for free here.

Contributor

Jill K. Clark is an Associate Professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Her research interests include food policy and practice, centering on community and state governance of food systems, the policy process, and public participation.

 

 

Citation

Clark, J. K. (2019). Collaborative governance: The case of local food action planning. In Andrée, P. Clark, J.K., Levkoe, C.Z., Lowitt, K. (Eds.). Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance(164-182). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


The Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance Blog Series showcases the chapters and themes from the open-access book. Follow along as we explore the governance of contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements.

Previous posts in the series:

Pathways to co-governance? The role of NGOs in food governance in the Northwest Territories, Canada

June 2019

By Carla Johnston & Peter Andrée

What are the lived opportunities and constraints for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are interested in improving food security and building sustainable food systems through policy and governance channels? How can these NGOs work collaboratively with government decision-makers and on-the-ground food system actors? These questions are at the heart of the chapter “Pathways to Co-governance? The Role of NGOs in Food Governance in the Northwest Territories, Canada” in the edited collection, Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance. This chapter came about through research with two NGOs, Ecology North and the Yellowknife Food Charter Coalition in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada. These organizations are seeking to create collaborative governance in territorial and municipal food system policy-making spaces. Collaborative governance (or co-governance) is most simply defined as multiple actors working together to meet shared governance goals and usually includes some combination of civil society, government, business and other private actors. Through working alongside these two NGOs, opportunities and constraints to create collaborative governance became apparent.

The research for this chapter was grounded in Participatory Action Research, which is focused on creating partnerships with local actors to work together to change the status quo through informed action. To put this methodology into practice, the primary author worked directly with Ecology North and the Yellowknife Food Charter Coalition to support their food systems initiatives, with a focus on political advocacy and policy work.

Food systems actors from across the territory discussing the National Food Policy

To examine these experiences, we used theory on effective NGOs, the political and economic context of the NWT, and the key drivers for collaborative governance. In terms of the effectiveness of the NGOs we found that they were particularly skillful at visioning and employing new governance frameworks, coalition building, and working synergistically on policy with government actors and community initiatives.

When we examined the political and economic context within which the NGOs work, we found some constraints. At the territorial level, Ecology North is in a coalition-building phase to create a territorial network of food system actors. For this network, there are opportunities to influence agricultural policy with the territorial government, but other areas relevant to food policy, such as hunting and resource management, are already heavily governed by a range of invested actors. This has led the Network to ask: If there are already so many structures surrounding hunting, is the Network needed (or wanted) to support Indigenous hunters? At the municipal level, based largely on the consistent efforts of the Yellowknife Food Charter Coalition to work with the City of Yellowknife to make the case for a local food strategy, the City recently created GROW: Yellowknife Food and Agriculture Strategy. However, this opportunity was largely limited to agriculture, and a multi-stakeholder process, rather than the food systems and collaborative approach that the NGO would have liked.

Checking fish nets in Sambaa K’e

While the NWT and Yellowknife food systems are distinct in many ways, the lived experiences of the NGOs are similar with other struggles for sustainable food systems in Canada and globally. Though these NGOs have not yet reached co-governance, there are opportunities for it to emerge. In particular, the engagement of the NGOs with government and food system actors has helped to build trust. This is a critical element for facilitating the other key drivers of co-governance, such as shared motivation and capacity for joint action.

If you want to know more about the projects that Ecology North and the Yellowknife Food Charter Coalition work on to reach their policy and food systems goals, this chapter is a great place to start.

Contributors

Carla Johnston is a Ph.D. Candidate and a Doctoral Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Her research interests include the governance of sustainable food systems in northern Canada as well as using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology to work directly with civil society groups to create meaningful actions that help them reach their goals.

 

 

Peter Andrée is Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. His research focuses on the politics of food systems and the environment. He practices, and teaches, community-based participatory research methods. Prof. Andrée is co-editor of Globalization and Food Sovereignty: Global and Local Change in the New Politics of Food (2014) and author of Genetically Modified Diplomacy (2007).

 

Citation

Johnston, C. & Andrée, P. (2019). Pathways to co-governance? The role of NGOs in food governance in the Northwest Territories, Canada. In Andrée, P. Clark, J.K., Levkoe, C.Z., Lowitt, K. (Eds.). Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance (43-62). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


The Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance Blog Series showcases the chapters and themes from the open-access book. Follow along as we explore the governance of contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements.

Previous posts in the series:

Indigenous Self-Determination and Food Sovereignty through Fisheries Governance in the Great Lakes Region

May 22, 2019

By Charles Levkoe and Kristen Lowitt

When we talk about sustainable food systems and the right to food, it is important to ask: on whose lands? And on whose waters? This question is at the heart of the chapter, “Indigenous Self-Determination and Food Sovereignty through Fisheries Governance in the Great Lakes Region”, in Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance. This chapter looks at the efforts of two First Nations communities in the Great Lakes region of Canada to exert authority over their fisheries. 

Access to traditional or ‘country’ foods is a key element of food sovereignty for Indigenous communities in Canada—food sovereignty referring to the right of people to have healthy and culturally appropriate food and the right of communities to control their food systems. The importance of traditional foods is not only that they are nutrient-dense, but they also contribute to “cultural food security” due to their central role in maintaining identity, health, and survival. Throughout the Great Lakes Region, hunting and harvesting of wild and traditional foods has long been essential to the sustenance and well-being of First Nations and Métis people, with fishing of great importance to the Anishinaabe people. 

Since the arrival of European settlers in the 17thcentury, Indigenous fishing activities have been disrupted by colonialism, a broken treaty process and an imposed reserve system. This has led to a severe restriction of Indigenous control and access to land and watersheds. Moreover, the systems of Indigenous knowledge and decision-making has been disregarded and too often seen as inferior to resource management regulations imposed by the settler state. 

However, Indigenous people around the Great Lakes are resisting. Today there are 75 First Nations around the Great Lakes in Canada, all involved in fishing activities to differing degrees and with varying levels of authority over their fisheries. Our chapter presents Batchewana First Nation on Lake Superior and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation on Lake Huron as two communities with a commitment to self-determination over their fisheries. The stories of these two communities demonstrate different ways of engaging with the settler state to achieve food sovereignty. 

Fishers from Batchewana First Nations return with their catch

Working as a co-author team, consisting of two academics, one staff member from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, one staff member from the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, and the Chief of Batchewana First Nation, we share the communities’ different governance arrangements and aspirations, strategies used to exercise authority, and views on the opportunities and limits of organizing towards equitable fisheries and food systems.

Together, these two communities show the complexity of perspectives and strategies that comprise fisheries and food system governance. As settlers who may work with Indigenous people or read this chapter, it is not our role to make judgements on these strategies but rather to understand them in an effort to build meaningful Nation to Nation relationships. From our research, we suggest there is a need to go beyond resource management that is led by the settler state and to understand and implement Indigenous systems of land and water governance. We also suggest that the food sovereignty movement needs to pay greater attention to fisheries and coastal areas, as these are often overlooked due to a focus on agricultural food production.

Contributors

Kristen Lowitt is at the Department of Geography, Brandon University, Canada. Her research looks at the interactions among food security, communities, and natural resource management in rural and remote regions.

Charles Z. Levkoe is the Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems in the Department of Health Sciences at Lakehead University. Charles’ community-engaged research uses a food systems lens to explore connections between social justice, ecological regeneration, regional economies, and democratic engagement.

Ryan Lauzon is at the Fisheries Assessment Program, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. Ryan is responsible for supporting informed fisheries management decisions at the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Joint Council, through the collection of data on the commercial fishery.

Kathleen Ryan is at the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office, Canada, Kathleen Ryan (Anungkwe) holds a BSc. in Indigenous Science and an MSc. in Aquatic Ecology. Kathleen works at the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office in Neyaashiinigmiing.

Dean Sayers has been Chief of Batchewana First Nation since 2005. He grew up in Batchewana village, a small community north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where he worked with his father and brother in the First Nation’s Commercial Fishing industry. Chief Sayers’ experiences and historical understanding of Batchewana and its people have been instrumental to the First Nation’s success and assertions of sovereignty and jurisdiction over their land and resources.

Citation

Lowitt, K., Levkoe C.Z., Lauzon, R., Ryan, K., and Sayers, D. (2019). Indigenous self-determination and food sovereignty through fisheries governance in the Great Lakes Region. In: Andrée, P. Clark, J.K., Levkoe, C.Z., Lowitt, K. (Eds.). Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance. Routledge, Series on Food, Society and Environment. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


The Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance Blog Series showcases the chapters and themes from the open-access book. Follow along as we explore the governance of contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements.

Previous posts in the series:

Comparing the Effectiveness of Structures for Addressing Hunger and Food Insecurity

May 2019

By Molly D. Anderson

Why have some countries and regions been successful in addressing low food security and its extreme form, hunger, while others have not?  This question drove a comparison of different governance structures of decision-making organizations that is presented in the chapter “Comparing the Effectiveness of Structures for Addressing Hunger and Food Insecurity” in Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance. This research started with the idea that the involvement of civil society as an equal and respected member of decision-making bodies would facilitate more effective progress toward eliminating hunger and food insecurity. Such involvement contrasts with more elite decision-making by ‘experts’ or government agencies, or those with positions of wealth and power in society. Civil society has representatives from ‘front-line’ social movements that are experiencing hunger who will have good ideas about why hunger exists in their communities and what can be done about it.

To answer this question, I compared four organizations that work at city, state, national and international levels to combat hunger. In my state of Vermont, I looked at the Food Access Cross-cutting Team of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network. This is a voluntary group of people from state and non-profit organizations working on better access to healthy food for low-income people. I also looked at the Civil Society Mechanism of the Committee on World Food Security, which works internationally and brings together representatives of hundreds of organizations and social movements to negotiate better solutions to reduce world hunger.  Since I’m interested in how efforts at different scales can interact with each other, I added two additional groups:  Brazil’s CONSEA structure, which operates from the national to the state level in a nested structure, and food policy councils in the U.S., which operate at the city or sometimes state level.  Brazil’s CONSEA is an excellent example of interaction across scales:  ideas and decisions made at lower levels can be brought to higher levels, and vice versa.

Representative from the Civil Society Mechanism at Committee on World Food Security in 2017
Representatives from the Civil Society Mechanism at Committee on World Food Security in 2017

By looking at the achievements of each organization and understanding how they were aided (or slowed down) by the organization’s governance structure, I present the following points as findings to be explored further in future research:

  • Wider and deeper civil society participation in decision-making pushes organizations in directions of environmental and social sustainability, much more than if they were dominated by business or state interest.
  • Civil society participation opens the door to engagement with human rights, especially in a context such as the United States where the right to food and violations of labor rights in the food system receive too little attention.
  • Civil society participation alone is not enough to tip the power balance toward real food system change that would increase environmental and social sustainability because this requires addressing inequities and repression that may diminish the power of civil society.

The food system is in need of fundamental change because it is not serving the public’s interest.  With increasing dominance of the private sector, the food system has become a way to further enrich already wealthy and powerful people and to provide healthy food to only a segment of society that can afford to pay for it.  Breaking up the myths that food system decision-making, as it is done now, is inevitable or cannot be changed is an important task.  By showing the positive difference that civil society engagement has made in various settings, this chapter gives support to opening up decision-making to more civil society voices in other ways and places.

Contributors

2018 09 molly anderson - FEC SQ

Molly D. Anderson is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Food Studies at Middlebury College and Academic Director of its Food Studies Program.  She worked previously at Oxfam America and Tufts University and has published widely on sustainable food systems issues.

 

Citation

Anderson, Molly  D. (2019). Comparing the effectiveness of structures for addressing  hunger and food insecurity. In P. Andrée, J.K. Clark, C. Z. Levkoe, & K. Lowitt (Eds.), Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance (124-144). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


The Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance Blog Series showcases the chapters and themes from the open-access book. Follow along as we explore the governance of contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements.

Previous posts in the series: